The Evergreen Fitness team has been exercising its way through 20 years of fitness and fun.
“The objective of the program is to make lifelong healthy individuals,” Evergreen Fitness Team founder Darner Ross, who is a health and PE teacher and football and eighth-grade boys basketball coach at Evergreen School District.
What started out as a weight training program for seventh- and eighth-grade student-athletes, soon expanded to all students interested in staying fit over summer break, starting in the second grade.
“There was a need for the Evergreen community to have kids engaged in a summer program,” Ross said. “Because I was highly involved in athletics I came up with a supplemental PE program to keep kids active and engaged throughout the summer.”
Depending on his availability, the fitness team may also meet during other breaks such as winter break.
“Lots of kids just want to stay physically active and do not participate in the athletic program. We make it really fun,” he said.
Evergreen Junior High student Tristan Hall joined the fitness team two years ago as a sixth-grader.
“I first joined a fitness team in the hope of losing weight and being more athletic, I really wanted to prepare physically for sports as well,” Hall said in an email to the Daily Inter Lake.
“I strived for physical improvement,” he said. “As an overweight kid, my body was of great concern to me so I worked hard during the two months of the fitness team.”
Hall tackled his personal goals and achieved success in those two months.
“I had lost a little over 25 pounds,” Hall said.
Last summer, 107 students signed up for the free program.
“Once they walk in the door they’re moving for nearly two hours,” he said.
Ross manages the high level of participation by breaking up the day into two-hour sessions with up to 30 students at a time. It’s not unusual for participants to stay for more than one session to continue exercising or helping out other participants, he said.
With a school district that has a high percentage of students from low-income families, keeping the program free was a priority. Donations and grants cover all operating costs. Ross said monetary support has come from around the valley, not just Evergreen, and thanked donors for investing in the fitness team’s mission to “enhance the …….